ARA Veinticinco de Mayo (V-2)
Conventionally-Powered Aircraft Carrier
The arrival of this ex-British, ex-Dutch aircraft carrier allowed the retirement of the ARA Independencia V-1 for the Argentine Navy.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited:
At one point in relatively recent history, the Argentine Navy fielded no fewer than two aircraft carriers. Its first became ARA Independencia (V-1), a former British vessel (HMS Warrior) which then served under the same name for the Canadian Navy. In 1958, this ship was procured by the Argentine government to which ARA Veinticinco de Mayo (V-2) followed as its second carrier. ARA Veinticinco de Mayo began life as the HMS Venerable (R63) in 1944 for the British and then was sold to the Dutch as the HNLMS Karel Doorman (R81) in 1948. In 1968, the vessel was obtained by the Argentine Navy who commissioned the vessel on March 12th, 1969. ARA Veinticinco de Mayo (V-2) carried the name of the Argentine "May Revolution" of 1810.
With the arrival of ARA Veinticinco de Mayo, ARA Independencia was replaced and decommissioned in 1970, leaving Argentina with a single operating carrier. She was assigned the homeport of Puerto Belgrano Naval Base located south of the capital city of Buenos Aires. As commissioned, the vessel displaced at 20,000 tons, featured a length of 630 feet, a beam measuring 80 feet and a draught of 24.5 feet. Her propulsion system included four boilers feeding steam turbines which drove a pair of shafts. Maximum speed was 24 knots. Her full crew complement numbered 1,300 men and defense was provided by twelve 40mm anti-aircraft guns. Her typical air arm numbered approximately twenty to twenty-four aircraft.
Veinticinco de Mayo's air arm consisted of ex-US Navy (USN) Grumman F9F Panther jet-powered fighters. In time, these were given up in favor of the more nimble and modern Douglas A-4(Q) Skyhawk series - also used by the USN. Grumman S-2 Tracker twin prop-powered aircraft were brought aboard to provide Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) service while Sikorsky SH-3 Sea King naval helicopters were obtained for ASW service, Search and Rescue (SAR) capabilities and general over-water utility service. While French Super Etendard fighters were eventually procured by the Argentine Navy as well, the carrier's current catapult arrangement proved unsuitable for launching the Etendards at sea.
Veinticinco de Mayo's first call to action was to have been the Argentine invasion of Chilean territory during Operation Soberania (1978). While the operation was enacted, it was stopped a mere few hours after it had begun. It was not until the Falklands War of 1982 that the importance of Veinticinco de Mayo to the Argentine Navy was brought into play against opposing British forces. As it stood, ARA Veinticinco de Mayo stood with the light cruiser ARA General Belgrano were used in support of the initial landings. Their value was such that both vessels were specifically targeted by the British and this eventually led to the sinking of the Belgrano by the British (HMS Conqueror). The loss of the grand ship forced the Argentines to reel in their prized aircraft carrier for fear of another irreplaceable loss. This then resulted in her air wing operating from land bases for the duration of the conflict - which ended with a British victory.
ARA Veinticinco de Mayo continued in service after the Falklands War. In 1983, catapult support for the ex-French Etendards was finally added but the ship required more work in other quarters - and this amidst ongoing defense cuts in the Argentine military. She was eventually doomed to the scrap yard when pulled from active service in 1990, stripped of her useful components, and decommissioned from Argentine Navy service in 1997. She was delivered to India in 2000 where she was scrapped.